Dance for a chicken: Cajun Mardi Gras

Folkstreams.net offer an intriguing collection of documentary films, mostly centering on rural knowledge, folk traditions, and music.   Reflecting on the 1993 sixteen mm film “Dance for a chicken: Cajun Mardi Gras:”

–> Good articulation of Mardi Gras in rural communities.  I enjoyed the lens on different towns and their radically distinct traditions.

—> Documentary filmmaking includes a certain voice, and it is interesting to observe the frame-makers who constitute the narrative structure of the documentary through the representations they choose.   I think the of the narration and visibility of the film creators increases over time (this footage is at least eighteen years old).  The discussions about blackface, cultural appropriation (the film includes a fragmented scene of rural white-identified Mardi Gras celebrants dressed up as indians driving through a Native American reservation), and gender provide valuable time-contextual artifacts vis-a-vis the film itself.

–> There is a dialogue about Mardi Gras, and this film is an attempt to broaden the image of drunken costumed revelry.  It is quite good on the historic traditions, unpacking the coded imagery, and iconography.

–> I feel bad for the chickens.

–> At the end of the film they discuss the impact of rural Mardi Gras traditions evolving as fewer people engage in actual farming life.  It’s a good place to start thinking about the impact of economic changes on ritual experience.

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